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Radar was developed during World War II for defense and security applications, and it was initially used for detecting aircrafts and missiles, replacing short range and narrow field-of-view acoustic devices. Since then, radar use has been progressively widened to numerous civilian applications, including airport and harbor traffic control, remote sensing of Earth, wave forecasting and marine climatology, high-precision detection of small surface movements, biomass and deforestation measuring, and volcano and earthquake monitoring. More recently, it has included car cruise control and collision avoidance, monitoring of heartbeats and respiratory function, physiological liquid detection, and monitoring of artery walls and vocal cord movements, with devices that, thanks to the progress of the technology, can in some cases be even smaller than a modern smartphone. Today, the use of radar-like sensors is getting more and more pervasive, and the future will likely see radar as a ubiquitous sensor, devoted to applications completely unexpected when it was used for the first time.
Whatever the application and the platform, radar systems have the advantage of being used in all weather and light conditions, meaning they can function without interruption or large losses in the quality of service all day and throughout the year. Depending on the application, size, cost, and expected performance, these systems require sophisticated signal processing techniques to extract the necessary information from the observed data that are corrupted by the various kinds of disturbances embedding the useful signal.
The special issue published in IEEE Signal Processing Magazine in July 2019 is divided into two parts. The goal of both parts of the special issue is to show, in the typically rigorous but easy-to-understand style of the magazine, the main techniques applied in different scenarios by different systems, focusing particularly on some of the new civil and commercial applications. There are, however, no articles dedicated specifically to defense, harbor, or air-traffic control nor on long-range remote sensing. This is not because they are not considered equally important or because they are declining in terms of scientific and market interest, but it is only because they are considered more classic topics that are supposedly more well known by a larger audience.
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